Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Dangers of Democracy/You Can't Please Everybody

Democracy is heralded is as the ultimate in freedom, but it is too often forgotten that Democracy only works when there is a constitution in place to protect individual freedom. Democracy in and of itself is merely tyranny of the majority, and without a proper constitution, individual rights will fall by the wayside. One of the major misconceptions about Democracy is that the majority is *right* by virtue of it's being the majority, but there are many factors that make defining the true majority and even defining the *right* almost impossible. Both are fluctuating, instable, and often treated as subjective. However, Democracy is the best way to decide conflicts which arise under the constitution, at least so far as we have seen. In order to do that, a constitution must protect freedom of speech, it must protect property rights and it must separate church and state. As we watch Iraq work to draft their constitution, it becomes clear that a popular mandate is not neccesarily going to result in individual liberty.

"The constitution is the most dangerous document in the country and the most important one affecting the future of the country," said Alaadeen Muhammad al-Hakim, a son of and spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Said al-Hakim, one of the most senior Shiite clerics in Iraq.

The clerics generally agree that the constitution must ensure that no laws passed by the state contradict a basic understanding of Shariah as laid out in the Koran. Women should not be treated as the equals of men in matters of marriage, divorce and family inheritance, they say. Nor should men be prevented from having multiple wives, they add.

"We don't want to see equality between men and women because according to Islamic law, men should have double of women," said Muhammad Kuraidy, a spokesman for Ayatollah Yacoubi. "This is written in the Koran and according to God."-Read the rest here.

Unfortunately, the supposed defenders of Democracy-the liberal left-are some of it's worst enemies. Even in Britain we can see the furthur deterioration of the concepts of both freedom and Democracy. Salman Rushdie comments:

"The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted, or in which they have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted, is absurd.

People must be protected from discrimination by virtue of their race, but you cannot ring-fence their ideas. The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it's a belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.With its proposed "incitement to religious hatred" law, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has set out to create that impossibility. Privately they'll tell you the law is designed to please "the Muslims." But which Muslims, when and on what day?"


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